נושאי קיסר שמרוני כל הלילה אמרו ליה שמא דבר ערוה בא לידך וניצלת הימנו דתנינא כל הבא דבר ערוה לידו וניצל הימנו עושין לו נס גברי כח עשי דברו לשמע בקול דברו כגון רבי צדוק וחביריו
soldiers [nosei keisar] who guarded me all night. They said to him: Perhaps a matter of forbidden intercourse presented itself to you and you were saved from it, which is why a miracle occurred for you. As we learned: With regard to anyone to whom a matter of forbidden intercourse presented itself to him and he was saved from it, a miracle is performed for him. As it says:“ Mighty in strength who fulfill His word, hearkening to the voice of His word” (Psalms 103:20). This is referring to one such as Rabbi Tzadok and his colleagues.
רבי צדוק תבעתיה ההיא מטרוניתא אמר לה חלש לי ליבאי ולא מצינא איכא מידי למיכל אמרה ליה איכא דבר טמא אמר לה מאי נפקא מינה דעביד הא אכול הא שגרת תנורא קא מנחא ליה סליק ויתיב בגויה אמרה ליה מאי האי אמר לה דעביד הא נפיל בהא אמרה ליה אי ידעי כולי האי לא צערתיך
To what is this referring? Rabbi Tzadok was enticed by a certain noblewoman to engage in sexual intercourse with her. He said to her: My heart is weak and I am incapable at present; is there something to eat that can strengthen me? She said to him: There is something non-kosher. He said to her: What difference is there? One who performs such an act eats such food as well. She lit the oven and placed the non-kosher food in it to roast. He climbed and sat in the oven. She said to him: What is the meaning of this? He said to her: One who performs this act falls into this, i. e., the fires of Gehenna. She said to him: If I had known that the matter was so serious for you, I would not have caused you such anguish.
רב כהנא הוה קמזבין דיקולי תבעתיה ההיא מטרוניתא אמר לה איזיל איקשיט נפשאי סליק וקנפיל מאיגרא לארעא אתא אליהו קבליה אמר ליה אטרחתן ארבע מאה פרסי אמר ליה מי גרם לי לאו עניותא יהב ליה שיפא דדינרי
The Gemara further relates: Rav Kahana would sell baskets woven from palm leaves to women. He was enticed by a certain noblewoman to engage in intercourse with her. He said to her: Let me go and adorn myself beforehand. He ascended to the roof and fell from the roof toward the ground. Elijah the prophet came and caught him. Elijah the prophet said to Rav Kahana: You have troubled me to travel four hundred parasangs [parsei] to save you. Rav Kahana said to him: What caused me to be in this situation of temptation? Was it not poverty, as I am forced to engage in a trade that leads me to come into contact with women? Elijah gave him a basket [shifa] full of dinars, to spare him from having to work as a salesman.
§ Rava raises a contradiction to Rav Naḥman and asks: We learned in a mishna ( Pe’a 1: 1): These are the matters that a person engages in and enjoys their profits in this world, and the principal reward remains for him for the World -to- Come, and they are: Honoring one’s father and mother, acts of loving kindness, and bringing peace between one person and another; and Torah study is equal to all of them.
בכיבוד אב ואם כתיב למען יאריכן ימיך ולמען ייטב לך בגמילות חסדים כתיב רדף צדקה וחסד ימצא חיים צדקה וכבוד
Rava cites the source for each of these assertions. With regard to honoring one’s father and mother, it is written: “ That your days may be long, and that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:16), which indicates that one is rewarded in this world. With regard to acts of loving kindness it is written: “ He who pursues righteousness and kindness shall find life, prosperity, and honor” (Proverbs 21:21), all of which apply in this world.
ובהבאת שלום כתיב בקש שלום ורדפהו ואמר רבי אבהו אתיא רדיפה רדיפה כתיב הכא בקש שלום ורדפהו וכתיב התם רדף צדקה וחסד בתלמוד תורה כתיב כי הוא חייך וארך ימיך
And with regard to bringing peace it is written: “ Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15). And Rabbi Abbahu says: This is derived through a verbal analogy between the term pursuing written with regard to pursuing peace and the term pursuing written in another verse. It is written here: “ Seek peace and pursue it, ” and it is written there, with regard to acts of kindness:“ Pursues righteousness and kindness. ” This teaches that one who pursues peace will also merit life, prosperity, and honor. With regard to Torah study it is written: “ For that is your life and the length of your days” (Deuteronomy 30:20).
בשילוח הקן נמי כתיב למען ייטב לך והארכת ימים ליתני נמי הא תנא ושייר תני תנא אלו דברים ואת אמרת תנא ושייר
Rava asked: With regard to the dispatch of the mother bird from the nest it is also written: “ That it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days” (Deuteronomy 22:7), so let him also teach this mitzva. Rav Naḥman answered: He taught some cases and omitted others, i. e., the tanna did not list everything. Rava said to him: The tanna taught: These are the matters, which indicates that only these mitzvot are included, and yet you say that he taught some and omitted others?
Rather, Rava said: Rav Idi explained the matter to me. The verse states:“ Say you of the righteous who is good, that they shall eat the fruit of their actions” (Isaiah 3:10). And this verse is difficult, as is there a righteous person who is good and is there a righteous person who is not good? Rather, this verse should be understood as follows: One who is good both toward Heaven and toward people is a good righteous person; one who is good toward Heaven but bad toward people is a righteous person who is not good.
כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר אוי לרשע רע כי גמול ידיו יעשה לו וכי יש רשע רע ויש שאינו רע אלא רע לשמים ורע לבריות הוא רשע רע רע לשמים ואינו רע לבריות זהו רשע שאינו רע
Rava continues: On a similar note, it is written:“ Woe to the evil wicked one, for the work of his hands shall be done to him” (Isaiah 3:11). And is there a wicked man who is evil and is there one who is not evil? Rather, one who is evil toward Heaven and evil toward people is an evil wicked person; and one who is evil toward Heaven and not evil toward people is a wicked person who is not evil. With regard to the issue at hand, only one who performs mitzvot that benefit others receives the profits of his mitzvot in this world. This does not apply to dispatching the mother bird, which is an act that does not benefit other people.
הזכות יש לה קרן ויש לה פירות שנאמר אמרו צדיק כי טוב וגו׳ עבירה יש לה קרן ואין לה פירות שנאמר אוי לרשע רע וגו׳
§ With regard to the mishna in Pe’a , the Gemara states: An act of merit has a principal reward and it has profits, i. e., one receives additional reward beyond that which is granted for the mitzva itself, parallel to a principal sum and profits, as it is stated: “ Say you of the righteous who is good, that they shall eat the fruit of their actions” (Isaiah 3:10). A sin has a principal penalty but it has no profits, i. e., no punishment beyond that, as it is stated: “ Woe to the evil wicked one, for the work of his hands shall be done to him” (Isaiah 3:11), but no more than the work of his hands.
ואלא מה אני מקיים ויאכלו מפרי דרכם וממעצתיהם ישבעו עבירה שעושה פירות יש לה פירות ושאין עושה פירות אין לה פירות
But how do I realize the meaning of the following verse that deals with sinners:“ Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Proverbs 1:31)? This verse indicates that the penalty for sin goes beyond its principal, and the wicked receive additional punishments. The Gemara answers that this applies to a sin that produces profits, i. e., a case where there are practical consequences to one’s sin. For example, if others learn to act in a similar manner, one’s actions have profits with regard to punishment as well. Conversely, a sin that does not produce profits does not have profits as a punishment either.
מחשבה טובה מצרפה למעשה שנאמר אז נדברו יראי ה׳ איש אל רעהו ויקשב ה׳ וישמע ויכתב ספר זכרון לפניו ליראי ה׳ ולחשבי שמו מאי ולחשבי שמו אמר רב אסי אפילו חשב אדם לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאה
The Gemara further teaches: The Holy One, Blessed be He, links a good thought to an action, as it is stated: “ Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with the other, and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). The Gemara explains: What is the meaning of the phrase“ and that think upon His name”? Rav Asi said: Even if a person intended to perform a mitzva but due to circumstances beyond his control he did not perform it, the verse ascribes him credit as if he performed the mitzva, as he is among those that think upon His name.
מחשבה רעה אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מצרפה למעשה שנאמר און אם ראיתי בלבי לא ישמע ה׳ ואלא מה אני מקים הנני מביא אל העם הזה רעה פרי מחשבותם מחשבה שעושה פרי הקדוש ברוך הוא מצרפה למעשה מחשבה שאין בה פרי אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מצרפה למעשה
But the Holy One, Blessed be He, does not link an evil thought to an action, as it is stated: “ If I had regarded iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not hear” (Psalms 66:18). But how do I realize the meaning of the verse:“ Behold I will bring upon these people evil, even the fruit of their thoughts” (Jeremiah 6:19)? In the case of an evil thought that produces fruit, i. e., that leads to an action, the Holy One, Blessed be He, links it to the action and one is punished for the thought as well. If it is a thought that does not produce fruit, the Holy One, Blessed be He, does not link it to the action.
ואלא הא דכתיב למען תפש את [בית] ישראל בלבם אמר רב אחא בר יעקב ההוא בעבודה זרה הוא דכתיב דאמר מר חמורה עבודה זרה שכל הכופר בה כמודה בכל התורה כולה
The Gemara asks: But with regard to that which is written: “ So I may take the house of Israel in their own heart” (Ezekiel 14:5), which indicates that one can be punished for thoughts alone, to what is this verse referring? Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: That is written with regard to idol worship, as the Master says: Idol worship is very severe, as anyone who denies it is like one who admits the truth of the entire Torah. Conversely, one who embraces idolatry is considered to have rejected the entire Torah. Due to the severity of idol worship, one is punished even for contemplating this transgression.
Ulla said: This should be explained in accordance with a statement of Rav Huna, as Rav Huna says: When a person transgresses and repeats his transgression, it is permitted to him. The Gemara questions this statement: Can it enter your mind that the transgression is permitted to him because he has sinned twice? Rather, it becomes as if it were permitted to him, as he becomes accustomed to this behavior and no longer senses that it is a sin.
Rabbi Abbahu says in the name of Rabbi Ḥanina: It is preferable for a person to transgress in secret and not to desecrate the name of Heaven in public [befarhesya], as it is stated: “ As for you, house of Israel, so says the Lord God: Go you, serve everyone his idols, even because you will not hearken to Me, but My sacred name you shall not profane” (Ezekiel 20:39).
אמר רבי אלעאי הזקן אם רואה אדם שיצרו מתגבר עליו ילך למקום שאין מכירין אותו וילבש שחורים ויתכסה שחורים ויעשה כמו שלבו חפץ ואל יחלל שם שמים בפרהסיא
Rabbi Ilai the Elder says: If a person sees that his evil inclination is overcoming him, he should go to a place where he is not known, and wear black clothes, and he should cover himself in simple black garments, and he should do as his heart desires, but he should not desecrate the name of Heaven in public.
The Gemara asks: Is that so? But isn’t it taught in a baraita:
With regard to anyone who does not care about his Creator’s honor, it is fitting for him not to have come into the world. What is this? Who is considered to be one who does not care about his Creator’s honor? Rabba says: This is one who gazes at a rainbow, which is described as: “ The likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28). Rav Yosef says: This is one who transgresses in secret, which shows that he fears other people but does not care about the honor of his Creator.
לא קשיא הא דמצי כייף ליצריה והא דלא מצי כייף ליצריה
The Gemara answers: This is not difficult, as this source, which says that one who transgresses in secret does not care about his Creator’s honor, is referring to one who can overcome his evil inclination but nevertheless chooses to transgress in secret. And that source, which states that it is preferable for him to transgress in secret, is referring to one who cannot overcome his evil inclination.
We learned in a mishna there (see Avot 4: 5): Credit is not given with regard to the desecration of God’s name, whether one sinned unintentionally or intentionally. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase: Credit is not given [makkifin]? Mar Zutra says: This means that God does not act like a storekeeper and provide credit. Rather, one is punished without delay. Mar, son of Rabbana, says: This means to say that if one’s merit and sins were equal, the sin of the desecration of God’s name tilts the balance of the scales toward the side of his sins. In other words, if his sins include the transgression of desecrating God’s name, God does not wait for this individual to perform a mitzva to balance out the sin.
תנו רבנן לעולם
The Sages taught: Always